Wedding Planning Advice From A Non-Traditional Bride

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Photo by Chelle Wootten

Unlike some brides, I never gave my big day any thought until my partner and I decided to tie the knot two years ago. Having zero idea of what actually goes into planning a party of this magnitude and no clue of what we actually wanted, when it came to planning our wedding we had to start at square one.

I learned a thing or two planning our big day, but before I get into that, here’s a bit of backstory on our wedding so you have an idea. My now-husband and I had been together for ten years when we decided to get hitched. We live in Toronto but wanted to get married in Nova Scotia (where I’m from) and gave ourselves just over a year to plan everything. And spoiler alert: I wasn’t a traditional bride. We kept everything very low-key and threw a lot of traditions out the window for a more unique approach. Here are five things I learned along the way that will hopefully give you some clarity during your wedding planning process.

1. Stay true to you
I learned very early in the planning process that while I may not have had a set idea of what I wanted, other people did. When people started asking me questions like, “what’s the colour theme for your wedding?” and “what are you doing for your wedding cake?” I started wondering if I should reconsider our laid-back plan of action, but I would quickly come back to reality and realize those things weren’t for us. With all the excitement in the air and so many wedding resources at your fingertips, it’s very easy to get swept up in the hoopla and start throwing caution (and your budget) to the wind. I got very good at politely telling people that we were having a smaller affair sans tradition. If you have a hard time saying no, start practicing now cause you will have to say it a lot during the planning process.

2. Keep the lines of communication open
This sort of goes hand-in-hand with my previous point. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the wedding craziness that you might (just for a split second!) forget about the other person you’re planning the event with. My husband works in design and had firm ideas about a lot of aspects our wedding, and while sometimes I just wanted to do things how I wanted, we always made decisions together. Thankfully we were on the same page for the overall vibe of our celebration, but it was still super important to discuss everything together, even the small details. Going into it I didn’t think he would want to be apart of every nitty gritty detail—and maybe your partner won’t—but it’s good to establish that before you’ve planned the whole thing in your mind.

3. Pick your priorities
In a perfect world (with an infinite budget), everyone would have their dream choice for every aspect of their wedding. But the reality is usually quite different. Right off the bat when we started planning, our focus was all over the map but eventually we boiled our priorities down to what mattered most to us: location, food/drink and music. It’s good to choose your key elements from the get-go as you probably won’t be able to splurge on everything. Flowers, decor, cake, etc, were things we thought about, but certainly didn’t break our backs to plan. You might find (like I did) that you run out of steam fairly quickly and that your energy is best put into the things you care about most.

4. Prep, prep, prep
This one kind of goes without saying, but I was surprised how prepared I thought I was for everything when really I could have done more beforehand. This may not apply to everyone as I’m sure some people have wedding planners or get married at a venue that takes care of a lot of the prep work, but we had a DIY approach and did everything ourselves. We tried to stay ahead of things are much as we could but it was still a challenge to complete everything before our wedding day. I learned that it’s never too early to get something done (which went against my natural procrastination tendencies). Another tip: Don’t be afraid to accept help. I didn’t want to bother anyone so I avoided asking for much help in the weeks leading up to the wedding, but people are usually asking because they genuinely want to pitch in, so let them.

5. Be in the moment
With all the time and effort that goes into planning your wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress on the big day. I really encourage you to take a step back during all the festivities and really put yourself in the moment and relish every part of the day. I spent a good chunk of the evening worrying about a couple things that I didn’t take care of beforehand and looking back now I wish I had just let them go. At the end of the day, even if your planning doesn’t go completely to plan and some elements don’t come together, it doesn’t matter. Because you got married! (Yay!) No one will notice that only half the chairs have bows tied around them or a table is missing a centerpiece because they’ll be too busy admiring your newlywed blissfulness and enjoying a rip roaring party.

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